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  May 22, 1999



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One more sleep!

Calgary's crew pumped up for biggest game of their lives

By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For The Calgary Sun
  OTTAWA --You wouldn't believe the excitement in the air. Or maybe you would.

 Thanks to an incredible comeback by the Belleville Bulls, the Hitmen received a bye into the Memorial Cup tournament's championship final, tomorrow!

 This place is ready to explode!

 This is hockey, Hitmen style!

 This is great!

 The entire junior hockey experience is so positive that for anyone who needs a boost to the spirit or who relishes an atmosphere of Canadian pride, I highly recommend the Memorial Cup playoffs as the place to be!

 I find it rejuvenating to watch young heroes battling where the rules still count. Everybody wins. I love the team spirit. It's everywhere.

 Not only are the players' families here but Native Canadians from all over the country have made the journey in honour of Brent Dodginghorse.

 The entire team mourned the loss of Kenton Smith's mother last Sunday. It affected the way they played and losing Brad Stuart to Lance Galbraith's cheap shot didn't help.

 The Ottawa 67's have been a really chippy team, attempting to win at any cost, and their tactics have disappointed me. I know that Galbraith maybe didn't intend for it to be any more than a cheap shot and expected Stuart to be back on the next shift but then why did Ottawa take out the Bulls' Justin Papineau and Jonathan Cheechoo? I was really glad to see them lose the other day.

 The Hitmen are drooling to have a rematch with Ottawa, hopefully tomorrow, depending on the winner of this afternoon's Ottawa/Belleville semi-final.

 Even the schedule has served Ottawa better than anybody else. But now, that's all changed since the Hitmen will come back well-rested after two days off and coach Dean Clark has the good news that Stuart is feeling better. It's very possible he may be on the ice tomorrow!

 Months ago, Dean mentioned to me that Stuart is the best defencemen in the country and if we could get him, we'd go to the Memorial Cup. That may be true, but out of the blue came Matt Kinch to carry the team defensively when the chips were down.

 And Kenton Smith is determined to play tomorrow! How's that for a gut check! The other day, in the locker room, I was touched to see that they hung Smith's jersey on the wall out of respect.

 This team is a family. A family with class. You don't see that in wrestling, at least not any more.

 I never lost faith in this team and I never will. To those of you who did, and you know who you are, I don't mind saying, I told you so!

 And to the Calgary Hitmen, go on and win it for Kenton, win it for Calgary, win it for yourselves -- you've earned it.

 Besides, with Kris Beech's dad keeping the Ottawa fans at bay, how can we lose? Now you know where Kris gets his feistiness!

 In the midst of all this good stuff in Ottawa, I've been trying not to let it distract me too much now that I'm going to beat up Kevin Nash on Monday -- without even having to go back to WCW! How could I pass up an opportunity like that? I've beat him every time I've fought him!

 Look how Nash waited until after I quit WCW to challenge me so this way he doesn't have to put the WCW title on the line. How cheesy is that?

 It's no big deal, though, since he took all the importance away from the WCW title when he mocked it by letting Hogan beat him with one finger.

 The $250,000 US purse will be nice, though, because I can put it away for my kids and that means more to me than his tin title.

 I haven't wrestled in a couple of months, haven't been able to work out because I'm recovering from abdominal surgery.

 I'll be tired because I have to fly from Ottawa to L.A., and most of all, my arms will be sore from holding the Memorial Cup up over my head alongside the team -- but -- I'm not gonna miss appearing on The Tonight Show, on Monday, so I can pummel Kevin Nash just for the sake of having a good time!

 What a way to top off a celebration!

 If you're Canadian and you love hockey -- and especially if you're from Calgary -- do yourself a favor and sit your butt down in a chair and watch what these kids have to offer before they go to the major leagues.

 This is hockey at its best.

 This is youth at its best.

 Enjoy!

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